The aim of this study was to clarify the benefit and inconvenience to cancer patients of receiving a copy of the medical record following a visit to the out-patient clinic of the Department of Oncology, University Hospital of Tromsø, Norway. Between January and December 1998, after their attendance at the clinic a printout of the record made after the consultation was mailed to each of 199 patients seen by the same medical oncologist. A 15-item questionnaire was later mailed to 178 survivors in March 1999. The questionnaire had items on the use made of the copy report, side effects it might have occasioned, such as anxiety, worries and fear, and patients' general opinion of this procedure. There were 119 responders (67%), and 93 acknowledged receipt of the record. Most (96%) replied that the report had been beneficial; 78% had shown it to family members or friends; and 27% had shown it to other doctors. Only 9% had taken it with them when travelling. Such side effects as anxiety and worries were mentioned by only a few patients. Some 20% (mostly men) stated that medical terms had caused difficulties. Most patients in the study group (93%) recommended that the study practice should be introduced as standard procedure. Patients who considered receipt of the copy report of little value experienced the highest level of anxiety. In conclusion, cancer patients should be offered a copy of the medical record following an out-patient visit.